Alfreton Town needed a spectacular 63rd minute goal from Bradley Wood to edge through to the quarter-finals of the Derbyshire Senior Cup against a gallant South Normanton Athletic on Tuesday night.
The Shiners can take immense pride from their performance, belying the chasm between the two leagues that these teams ply their trade in as they put up maximum resistance whilst going close themselves from the odd chance they created on the break.
The Reds squandered a golden opportunity to take a 15th minute lead when Paul Clayton hammered a penalty straight at keeper Steve Smith after Jake Sheridan had been impeded just inside the area by Tommy Leighton.
Smith then held a Jordan Keane effort before Luke Graham needed to clear Alfreton’s lines when Ashley Witt ran on to Sam Sims’ 31st minute through-ball.
Sims then drew a save from Sam, Johnson with a low drive as Athletic made their presence felt, then Smith had to stretch to palm away a deep Massiah McDonald cross before Clayton hooked wide.
Sims had to be alert to block McDonald’s volley six minutes after the break after Wood’s defence-splitting crossfield pass had sent Lathaniel Rowe-Turner to the by-line, then Kyle Johnson went close for the visitors with an angled drive that won a corner.
Dan Bradley’s 62nd minute cross saw McDonald strike the ball against the foot of the back post from close range, but 60 seconds later Wood unleashed a fabulous shot from 30 yards that flew into the roof of the net to nudge Alfreton ahead in the tie.
Almost immediately from the restart Shane Newton miskicked after initiating a move that involved Sims and Leighton as South Normanton sought a quick equaliser.
Bradley took a return pass from Carl Lamb to feed McDonald, but the striker could not make a firm contact with the goal at his mercy, then Smith fumbled a Bradley rasper from a Rowe-Turner pass but recovered as Graham homed in on the loose ball.
Despite being on the back foot for most of the game South Normanton never gave up, and when Andrew Mottershead sent Fay through at the start of stoppage time it needed a very good save by Johnson to prevent the added anguish of extra-time.
ALFRETON: S.Johnson, Gray, Graham, Courtney, Rowe-Turner, Keane, Sheridan, Wood, Hicks (Bradley 57), Clayton (Lamb 54), McDonald (Shaw 83).
Subs not used: Howell, Hawley.
STH NORMANTON: Smith, Granger, Keenan, Roberts, Mottershead, Leighton, Sims, Riley, Newton, K.Johnson (Fretwell 77), Witt (Fay 77).
Subs: Kirk, Green, Lewis.